Like A Girl

Posted: June 30, 2014 in Media and Society
Tags: , ,

This video is doing the rounds of my Facebook feed at the moment and it resparked my need to talk about these things.

So, firstly, the video:

Like A Girl –

I have recently (last few years) been saying I fight like a girl, because a lot of how I fight is influenced by the physical body I am in, that of a cis gendered female. The benefits and weaknesses of my physical casing have a lot to do with my gender.

But along side my physical structure, there is also my training, my injuries and history, personality, what I’m wearing. So I always took it as making a joke of the usual ‘insult’ of “like a girl” than any actual move to redefine the term.

I always wanted to make the point that girls don’t fight like anything specific, everyone fights differently. Maybe they have long legs so can pick you off with a kick, or have a wide stance from years of being tackled by a sadistic sibling. The stereotype was a bit grating regardless of positive or negative implication, simply because it suggested we were all the same.

I think too that I didn’t want to be a token of my gender to judge all girls by, as I wanted to be able to suck at things (like basketball) without it reflecting on anyone else but me. I want to laugh at my faults and have them be only my faults, not those of all girls. I wanted to playfully dismiss, not cruelly mock.

But after seeing this I am starting to think that there is more benefit in stating that “Like a girl” means something good, rather than avoiding a stereotype that girls are all alike (be it for better or worse).


Derby Advice

Posted: July 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

I have been busy as all get-out with the new black belts and a second dan friend, study and training (as well as a creative project or 10 gearing up for the Fringe Festival this year)..but I found this delightful piece of writing and thought I needed to share because it’s relevant to a contact sport…and it’s an entertaining read:

This weekend just past I spent some time with the up-and-coming soon to be Black belts at their training day. As I watched them turn their forms and drills over in their heads, corrected this or that and generally tried not to let my feet turn blue while I chatted to their instructors I found myself settling on the same points that I so often settle on – the non-mistakes.

Non-mistakes? Things that aren’t actually errors, but could really use a bit of attention to really make them shine. Subtle things (exaggerated in the examples below for easy explaining) that can be the difference in a good grading and a great grading.

So – without further ado…here are my top non-mistakes…grab your polishing rags folks!

Is It Getting Hot in Here?
So you warmed up off the floor…Great! That’s exactly what you should do, work out the nerves, warm up the body and focus on those little tough spots and niggles that anyone over the age of twelve has. If you need to spend ten minutes on that tight calf or injured shoulder – off the floor is where to do it.
That doesn’t mean you get to cop out of the warm up when you’re on the grading floor. Oh no.

Some key things to remember with warm ups.

  • Warm the hell up. MOVE! Don’t do a few meek star jumps and then stretch the rest of the time. Stretching is different to a warm up. You need to send a solid signal to your body that ‘this is it…get the joints lubricated, heat up the muscles – it’s party time!’…not to mention a solid signal to your grader.
  • Go with a game plan. Whether you start warming the legs and move up or start generally and then focus on specific muscles that you’ll be using a lot of – go in with a good idea of what a warm up needs to achieve for you. You don’t need a degree in bio-mechanics to figure out that your shoulders will be used for punches, etc. so work with what you know.
  • Intent. Perk up and settle in, this is you strapping in to your rocket. Don’t look bored…c’mon man – this is going to be fun! Your Black belt is one of the best days of your life! Show us you want it from the start. Not to mention you want to look awesome in the photos your mum is taking from the sidelines!

Bend and Stretch!
Just like your warm up – work the stretching, especially the niggly ones off the floor…then bring your game to the floor and do it again, but better.

Some key things to remember with stretches.

  • Game Plan (again). I know I sound quite the broken record here – but think about what you’re going to do and a rough order in which to do it. There’s nothing that screams ‘I don’t geddit’ than someone who does only three calf stretches, a quad stretch and/or flops around trying to fill in the rest of the allotted stretch time with whatever they can glean from the other gradees.
  • Know Your Show If you’re flexible, pick one thing that looks really good and throw it in. Don’t spend the whole time showing how flexible your legs are and skip stretching your arms entirely, pick a few things that you really want to show off and do them – then do the practical side.
  • Intent (again!). Said it before – sayin’ it again. Look like you mean it. If you’re looking around like you’re waiting for a bus your stretch is clearly not stretching anything.
Me and My Shadow…Sparring
Ok…Shadow sparring…Things to consider:
  • I’m Starting With The Man in The Mirror. Do some shadow sparring and figure out what you do the most of, and what you do the least of…a little self awareness is good. If you don’t know – ask someone to watch you and give you some feedback.
  • Sneeky Cheating. It’s not really cheating. Actually nothing is stopping you from figuring out a few awesome combinations to whip out every now and then during the shadow sparring rounds. Works for the 2nd Dans.
  • Stand Your Ground and Move. Look around…grab a nice chunk of floor. Got it? Right…now – defend it. Use angles and footwork to move and move around your opponent but stay in your ground. Let them come to you, don’t go barrelling across the other side of the dojo looking for a fight…the good thing about shadow sparring is that you can have as many opponents as you need right there in your chunk of floor.
Good Form
This one is a one point wonder.
  • Pulling Faces. Whoops, stuffed that one up, didn’t you? You know how I know? You winced, or shook your head, or bit your lip. I know some people do it because they annoyed themselves with the mistake, others subconsiously want to indicate to whoever’s watching that they KNEW that was a mistake so that it doesn’t seem that they don’t know the kata.

    He’s a secret. We KNOW you know it. You are on the floor. Your instructor and your grading co-ordinator signed you over to the grading panel saying ‘Yep, this student knows their stuff’.

    The problem is you have this stuff inside you that makes you make mistakes. It’s called human DNA. Now – unless you want to change species, then you should own the fact. It is not that we make mistakes, but how we deal with them.

    Cop it on the chin, push through as if it were right all along. Own it! After all, your gradee might have blinked, or coughed or been writing something on your grading sheet and not seen it anyway. I’ve even heard some of them are human themselves and thus might have made a few mistakes of their own at some point.

The Even Smaller Non-Mistakes
And finally, a small grouping of things that don’t fit into the actual grading requirements.

  • Here To Help. Take advantage of any opportunities given to you. The extra training days for black belts in our style, run by the co-ordinator are fantastic opportunities to get more from the one who knows.

    In addition to this your best tool is your instructor and equal/higher ranks – use them. Grab them and review what you need to know, work your defences, get opinions on what you’re doing – there’s nothing better than another set of eyes.

    Finally, challenge your knowledge. Grab someone and teach it to them. Break it down for them. Teaching a form or drill to someone is the best way to learn it. Or do the drill in unusual ways. Lie on your back, with your eyes closed, add in extra moves to confuse yourself.

  • The Flippy Floppy Fringe Fiasco.I tend to tease a few of the people from my club who have what is fondly known as a ’emo fringe’…and I mean that in a loving way. It looks great on them, but when sparring they tilt their head, puff at their fringe and do all sorts of star-in-a-shampoo-commercial hair-flicks in order to try and see their opponent.

    When I stop laughing at this, I find it really annoying. Gel, pins, clips, spray – don’t care…make sure you can see.

  • Hey You…You Like Karate? See that person from that other club/group/social circle? Go say hi. Seriously – the best thing about state gradings (which our style has, and which this mostly refers to) are all the people you get to meet. And you all have one thing in common – how easy is that conversation starter!

    It’s likely you’ll follow through your ranks at roughly the same pace as the other people in this group and like distant cousins at the Christmas table, it’s fantastically fun to catch up at the training days and see how they progress. Your fellow gradees can also be a great source of inspiration and reassurance through out the lead-up to the big day…

    ..not to mention you have a tonne of new friends to tear up the floor with at the after party who are just as tired and in need of a drink as you!

So there you go – the feedback on things you didn’t get wrong, but could polish anyway.

Posted: June 4, 2012 in Training Tips
Tags: ,

Study, study, study! I’ve been busy under my pile of books again but today I was reading up on motivation and something about the definition of motivation hit me.
The definition that hit me is this: Motivation – the internal mechanisms and external stimuli that arouse and direct behaviour. 

Obvious right? And sure, it’s more complicated that that, you can start breaking motivations down in to intrinsic and extrinsic and so on…but this simple explanation started me thinking as to weather we internet users are fixating on the external stimuli rather than the internal?
Are we tumblring, pinteresting, twittering, and god knows what else our way to a reliance on external and even easily accessed motivation? And if so, are we missing out by giving up harder won external and precious internal tracks that could lead us on a more rewarding path?

What if, when pinning these glorious ideals to our virtual walls we’re so busy subscribing to the ideas and motivations that we can find expressed in easily digested nuggets that we miss out on finding a voice for the little hidden powers within us, the ones that are not summed up by someone else but instead would be fed better with self reflection or research in to something seemingly unrelated? 

Now, I’m not saying unsubscribe from anyone, or that the internet has not provided me with any sparks of passion…I am saying that perhaps for every tumblr session I might take a space to myself and meditate or pick up the phone and call my father (who’s also a personal trainer and highly trained instructor) or a gym buddy, book a coffee catch up and make them listen to me ramble and get a fresh perspective on things, book in to a new class or with a different trainer…

and then, when I get back home, maybe I’ll log on again.



Posted: January 2, 2012 in Inspiration

I know I have been a little link-crazy lately, but sometimes people say things or I find things that need little to no additional input from me. The Planet Mag photos and article on Asgarda is one of those things.

The link is a short and sweet look at the Asgarda a tribe of women based in the Ukraine, (a country where females are victims of sexual trafficking and gender oppression). The tribe is comprised of 150 women of led by 30 year-old Katerina Tarnouska and was formed with the aim of reviving the tribal traditions of the Scythian Amazons of ancient Greek mythology. They train in martial arts, taught by former Soviet karate master, Volodymyr Stepanovytch, and learn life skills and sciences in order to become strong, independent women.

I don’t really have much else to say, I think that martial arts and education are beautiful reclamation/empowerment tools and I wish more countries had these sorts of movements.

An unnerving video regarding/comparing portrayal of women in sports magazines. The thought processes are ridiculous – must not be masculine, must be wholesome, but sexy, also not gay….

Video  —  Posted: December 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Just Hit Him

Posted: December 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

This article from Geek Feminism takes a good look to some all too typical responses to the idea of how women should react to harassment and brings up some interesting points. 

I found one particular phrase really struck me – “…all of this policy nonsense wouldn’t be necessary if women were just brave and defended themselves properly, if they’d just for once get it right.” 

I find it an interesting read and recommend it for some new thought-food. The last thing we need is women being told that not only did they invite the attack by not dressing/walking/dancing/breathing right, but that they missed their social responsibility to correctly and violently attack their harasser thus leaving the blood of all other women on her ‘slutty’ hands.

Talk about victim blaming.